As India began the colossal vaccination drive to inoculate crores of people against the coronavirus pandemic, turning on the light at the end of a 12-month tunnel that upended lives everywhere, an overwhelming sense of gratitude rang out among people first in line to get the vaccines. The vaccination programme aims to inoculate 3 crore health and other frontline workers first and then to persons above 50 years of age, followed by persons younger than 50 years of age with associated comorbidities.
Here is what some of the people who took the jab said:
Manish Kumar, first person in Delhi to get vaccine shot: Many of them (staff) were scared. So, I went to my seniors and said I should be given the vaccine first. I wanted to prove to my colleagues that there is no need to be scared. My wife even asked me not to take the vaccine. I told her it is just an injection. After taking the dose, I asked my mother to tell my wife that I am safe.
Biji Tomy, a nurse who got the first vaccine shot at Delhi government-run LNJP hospital: I feel proud and humbled to be a part of this historic moment. We risked our lives and were pained to see so many deaths every day. It is a relief that we have a vaccine against coronavirus now.
Bipasha Seth, the first person who got inoculated in West Bengal: It's a great day for humankind. I feel elated to get the first dose.
Abdul Qayoom, security guard at Era Medical College in Uttar Pradesh: There was always fear in mind because of close proximity to coronavirus patients. But now I am feeling much safer.
Ranganath Bhojje, a worker at the Goa Medical College and Hospital (GMCH): I am happy to become the first person in Goa to get this vaccine. I was never reluctant when I was selected for vaccination but I am rather feeling lucky. I am hoping for the best.
Dr Nitin Abhyankar in Pune: I feel extremely proud and happy that I could become the part of the inaugural inoculation drive that has started in the country to fight COVID-19.
Naveen Kumar from LNJP Hospital's administration department in Delhi: I feel perfectly normal after the vaccination. Drawing blood from veins hurts more.
Serum Institute CEO Adar Poonawalla: It brings me great pride that #COVISHIELD is part of this historic effort & to endorse it''s safety & efficacy, I join our health workers in taking the vaccine myself.
Ashokbhai, the first recipient of the vaccine in Gujarat: I didn't have any apprehension about getting this vaccine. Everyone should take it.
Dr Sudhir Bhandari, principal of SMS Medical College in Jaipur: I am feeling very good. There is a sense of happiness, excitement and wellbeing.
Dr Girdhari Lal, Chief Medical Health Officer of Rajasthan's Ganganagar: I was the first to be vaccinated in Ganganagar district today. Our nursing staffers and other health workers will also be vaccinated, and they are motivated and will continue to serve the people.
Dr Naveen Thacker, a paediatrician in Gujarat: As you can see, I have not felt any adverse effect even an hour after getting inoculated. I am blessed to be the first recipient... The vaccine is totally safe, effective, and we can defeat coronavirus only when all of us get vaccinated.
Vikas Dogra, the head of pulmonology department at Rajiv Gandhi Super Speciality Hospital in Delhi: I didn't feel anything after vaccination. Those who are spreading rumour that the vaccine is not safe, I want to say that they are not experts. It is a baseless thing and I want to tell people that they should not believe in rumours.
M K Sudarshan, chairperson of Karnataka government's COVID-19 technical advisory committee: Benefit of vaccination clearly outweighs the risk of disease.... I have taken the vaccine to give a message to people of country that the vaccine is safe and will be helpful.
(With inputs from agencies)